Why the Cloud Breaks Backup

For organizations that realize their backups are broken, the cloud appears to be an appealing way out of the mess. The problem is most legacy backup applications don’t have integrated cloud support, so leveraging the cloud either requires a bolt-on solution or a new option. The result is the broken backup actually becomes more fragmented, going from bad to worse.

The Cloud Backup Integration Problem

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The first problem with cloud backup is how the existing backup software solution supports the cloud.

In truth, some legacy on-premises backup solutions can leverage the cloud in some way. The methods to make and maintain that cloud connection cause the problem.

The most common method is to direct backups to a cloud gateway or appliance. These appliances typically present a SMB or NFS mount point where the backup application targets its backup. The appliance usually has some on-premises capacity, and replicates the latest backup to the cloud as bandwidth allows.

In most cases, the organization maintains its data protection storage on-premises and with the cloud appliance’s storage, creating two storage tiers to manage. To further complicate matters, the management of the cloud appliance is separate from the backup solution, so settings, as well as management, have to be made in both systems.

Last, because the gateway and the backup software are not integrated, there is confusion over what is a completed backup. The backup software considers the backup complete when it is stored on the appliance, but the organization may not think the backup is done until all data is fully replicated to the cloud.

IT needs a solution that can integrate directly into the cloud via an S3 connection, which allows the software to integrate with most major cloud providers, as well as to on-premises object stores. Since the integration is built-in to the backup software, the backup software is then fully aware of the data transfer process, and a separate silo of storage does not need to be created.

The Multi-Cloud Backup Problem

Cloud integration also solves the second problem that faces IT professionals looking to leverage the cloud: how to leverage multiple clouds. Many data protection solutions supporting cloud storage, especially cloud-only solutions, support just one cloud provider.

IT should look for a backup solution that can support multiple clouds. Then the organization has the flexibility to move between clouds to gain a pricing advantage or take advantage of specific services.

A native S3 built right into the backup solution enables the organization to move between cloud suppliers or even send certain backups to one cloud provider and send a different set to another cloud provider.

The Hybrid IT Problem

Hybrid IT means applications can run on-premises or in the cloud and can freely move between the two locations without the data protection team knowing about it. It also allows the creation of unique data in the cloud, and therefore must be protected.

Also consider that organizations more than likely have Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. Data created by these applications also needs to be protected.

The Cloud Data Protection Impact

Instead of simplifying the data protection process, integration of the cloud makes it more complicated if the underlying data protection solution does not offer native support for it.

Most legacy backup and recovery products get their cloud support by bolting on an appliance, whereas most “modern” solutions don’t provide the robust support required for on-premises protection and they cannot change cloud targets, especially within backups.

Most legacy and modern backup products don’t offer support for backup within the cloud, either for the organizations cloud-native applications or the data created by SaaS environments.

What IT Needs

IT needs a backup solution with robust on-premises capabilities and native cloud integration. If that integration uses the S3 protocol, the software could then support a variety of cloud locations and vary those locations between backups.

The backup solution should also have the capability to protect cloud-based data both for cloud-native applications as well as SaaS data sets. Ideally, the integration of cloud storage as well as the protection of cloud data should integrate into a single backup solution. The ultimate backup solution should also have flexibility to set policies that manage the entire process.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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